Three pairs, four of a kind, and a full house – A New Family

two pairsThe days have grown longer and stretched the hours after school and work to include more time spent doing farm chores and being with all of our animals.  Mucking the stall became a twice a week chore tonight, we decided that adding Dasher and Rudolph to Comet and Jingle’s stall calls for fresh shavings on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  As we shoveled out muck to our faithful, blue Jackson wheelbarrow, Libs asked me what pneumonia meant anyways.

I let my shovel rest and corrected her diction. Ammonia, not pneumonia is what we are smelling.  She asked if it was bad.  I replied that it wasn’t something that we wanted to build up in the stall and explained where it comes from.  She nodded her head and agreed our new mucking days would be Wednesdays after school and Saturday mornings.  The goats kept a constant watch on both of us as we refreshed their stall and all it’s accessories. They began performing running twists off the stable door in anticipation of their evening grain fix.  We stood back and laughed as it almost seemed choreographed.

Anna had taken care of the bunnies and chicks as soon as the car had parked in the driveway.  She filled their food dishes, changed their waters, and gave each animal a good talking to.  I watched as my little girl seemed to be transforming into a teenager right before my eyes.  Both of the older kids have changed almost with each day that passes, Max growing taller and loosing his baby face and Anna stretching out of her comfort zone, asking MiMi for products to help conceal, highlight, and enhance some of her facial features.  She appeared this morning at the bottom of the stairs for breakfast as a teenager, with months still left to turn before she actually becomes one.

Our full house made up of two pairs of goats, a pair of rabbits, and a four of a kind of chics, has spread itself out lately as the kids have begun to travel in different directions. We rarely see Aaron anymore as he has begun working a new promotion, Max is buried in baseball  and takes Kyle and Sophie along with him most of the time, and Anna and Libby have each dove into their own passions in life.  Our new family has become just as busy as the farm and even though we blended our lives together last Summer, for now they seem to be moving a bit in their own directions as Kyle and I stretch out for one another keeping connected the best way we know how, through laughter and love.

 

 



  • Salt air and turpentine – Medillia’s Lament

    Maine Lobster Memorial“So what brings you to Applewood?”  Clarence moved closer to John. He smelled of salt air and turpentine.  John couldn’t help but steal glances of the weathered skin that covered Clarence like a worn woolen blanket might a sailor out to sea. Razor stubble poked through the leathery layers of wrinkles that begged to share a story of their own.   -Medillia’s Lament, The Novel

    Kyle and I had met a friend at Aggie’s Ice cream this past weekend by chance.  We’ve discovered multiple unconnected connections by chance between us all, which made the surprise encounter kind of cool.  We quickly moved our conversation to farm animals, chores, and better ways of doing things for both our and the animals’ sake.  He leaned down to me and said, “you know, most people don’t realize that the word farm is a verb.” I smiled and soaked in his wisdom. I quickly discovered after adding animals to our farm in Maine that there was always something requiring our attention and animals  loved any extra efforts we directed their way.

    Tonight as I continued to expand on Clarence’s character, traits, and experiences I couldn’t help but transfer the idea of farm being a verb to lobster boat.  In order for a lobster boat to exist, chug into harbors, coves, and open oceans there are a lot of actions that need to be put into place.  The hands behind the wheel are most likely calloused, weathered, beaten down, and filled with stories to one day pass down to another.  I’ve based Clarence on a real life lobster man I grew up seeing in the outskirts of my life, an acquaintance at best, but a vision of dedication, strength, and perseverance I will never forget.  If I ever need a reminder, I can just take friends or family down to Chauncey Creek Lobster House to sit and stay awhile. More often or not I’m able to catch a glimpse of the strong character from my youth.

     

     



  • Let it burn – A New Family

    It was a crazy hectic morning, Kyle headed out to baseball with Max and Sophie before the girls and I were even out of bed.  I had worked my Summer job the night before after leaving my day job and finally felt as if I might be getting old.  The girls and I took our time getting up and dressed.  We made our way to Dover to Cafe on the Corner and Just the Thing.  The rain was coming down softly as the girls and I crossed Central Ave with coffee and drinks in hand.  The girls left their drinks at the counter as we scoured the eclectic found treasures for pieces to fill our outdoor patio.

    bonfireWe finally found our way home and met Kyle and Aaron. As we pulled down our driveway we spotted Kyle burning our brush and leaves.  The rain had stopped and left massive, gray clouds behind in its place.  The girls jumped out and ran into the house to have leftover pizza from the night before.

    The rain returned and began to drizzle on and off and despite Kyle’s efforts to get the pile to burn quickly, it made its own way slowly and deliberately. The girls joined us with a bag of marshmallows.  They ran to the property’s edge to find sticks for roasting.  Ruby circled the fire like a hunting dog, disappearing into the tall grass after birds and small rodents.  Aaron’s childhood friend pulled down the driveway and parked.  It’s strange to me to see my baby boy’s friends all transformed into young men.  Anna chatted incessantly about going back to the cheer gym and her goal of one day competing in worlds.  Max’s baseball team won, and he found out he will be playing all stars this Summer, Sophie has taken up playing the guitar with Kyle, and Libby is convinced that she is already an expert at riding horses after four lessons. They are all well on their way to becoming individuals and one day flying the coop.

    bonfire4

    I looked over at Kyle as Libby and Anna compared their toasting sticks and discussed whether or not they liked their marshmallows scorched or light brown.  I smiled at Kyle and said this is why I guard their weekends and like to have them at home, so they can be kids and just get to be outside.

    Libby quickly picked up the shovel and wanted to be in charge of keeping the fire.  I am convinced that Libby is my Grandmother Blackburn incarnate.  She is a workhorse when it comes to the barn and the yard and always wants to be in thick of things while the other kids keep themselves occupied while we are trying to get chores accomplished.   I’ve come to a place at the farm where I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, with Kyle doing just about anything that needs to be done.  As the fire burned down and the girls where picked up by their father we finished mulching the walk way garden.bonfire3

    Our hands had become dyed jet black as we spread the shovel fulls of dark pine mulch around the plants and up to the brick borders.  Ruby bounded her way through the garden as we begged and pleaded with her to stop. We forget she is still a puppy only seven months old.

    Today was one of my favorite days on the farm.  Spending time off and on with each of the kids, taking care of what needs to be done and allowing ourselves the space and place to do it without having to rush off somewhere before we are able to get it done. In the middle of the day, Jody and his family stopped by unexpectedly.  I immediately belted out that I have been writing and working on finishing the first draft of Medillia’s Lament, The Novel.  He smiled and changed the subject.  Jody had discovered my writing on the internet before he had learned where I lived.  I began writing with him before I had even met Kyle.  Then as life often does, it revealed that Kyle and Jody had gone to school together as well as many other serendipitous connections that existed between us. As we spent time with Jody and his family today I couldn’t help but feel as though life as a plan of its own that’s just waiting to unfold.

    walkway garden mulched



  • A shoe in – Medillia’s Lament

    Gerrish Island“The screen door slammed behind him as he felt a sudden pull to the back cove he had discovered the day before.  The pine boughs spilling over the pathway to the cove were familiar now, a welcoming sight.  John paused as he reached the end of the path; the view of the harbor was incredible.  The old, dilapidated lobster boat was where he had left it tipped over on its side, beached.  He scanned the boat for the old man he had met, then the beach but he was nowhere to be found.  It seemed curious that one should be there without the other; he shuffled down the loose beach stones to the boat to get a closer look.  Clarence must have heard the stones roll down the hill as John displaced them and popped his head out from behind the boat.” Medillia’s Lament – The Novel

    There’s a path on Gerrish Island that leads  to the back beach, where I love to fly kites and search for sea glass and shells.  I found the path as a teenager and have walked it ever since.  It’s there that I envision John walking under the tall pine boughs to meet with Clarence and work on the beached lobster boat.  There was a lobster man I used to wait on while serving tables in college at Cap’n Simeon’s Galley who has become Clarence for me.  His red suspenders and salty grin highlight his bright,warm twinkling eyes and make him a shoe in for the perfect model to make this incredible story even more than it is.



  • Worn Jeans – Medillia’s Lament

    chalkboard table 5“Bill, an eighteen year old student for the first time had decided to sit in the front of her class.  He sauntered into the room with his big, shaggy hair and his worn jeans and faded plain t-shirt.  He had followed Rachel into class and couldn’t take his eyes off her; he slid into the open chair next to hers and counted himself lucky.  Sara pretended to not see Bill follow Rachel in like a little, lost puppy. Instead she was determined to stay on course and addressed the class.”  Medillia’s Lament – The Novel

    It’s exciting to finally be able to work with the characters of Applewood, Maine.  The fictitious little town is filled with rich, eccentric, and intriguing people of all ages who Jody uses perfectly to weave John’s story into completion.



  • They will grow – A New Family

    sableAs I watched Libby mount Sable and place her feet in the stirrups, I realized she was going to grow up whether I wanted her to or not.  All of the kids are on the fast track to loosing their “little” status and well on their way to becoming individuals, even adults.  Aaron is practically there, in less than a year will become legal age and most likely leave the nest.  Anna and Max have started to separate from the pack and are spending more and more time in solitary confinement by choice as they connect with their friends online and via texts.  Our stand out hopes for staying young and having children to raise have began to identify their passions and choosing who they want to grow into.

    I swatted at the annoying black flies that swarmed my head, buzzing in my ears and dive bombing my exposed skin as I stood and watched Libby taking turns around the ring trotting in a rising and sitting position.  The horse seemed old beyond Libby’s handful of years, wanting to jump if given the chance.  I’ve become acquainted with horse lingo over the past few weeks and even come to know the proper way to hold your body when riding, just from being a mere observer.  I’ve accepted that role more and more each day as my own children grow and I watch my step children make their way through life. They are the imagineers, thinkers, and doers now.  Yet there is still a large role for Kyle and I to play in their lives as their supporters and feelers.  Even though we may not be living their lives for them as they continue to grow and make their way through the good, bad, and ugly we still get to feel what they feel and that can be the sweetest taste or the most incredibly heartbreaking ache all in the course of their day.



  • No stopping her now – Medillia’s Lament

    graceridingbike“Sara hadn’t noticed John had checked out as she continued to make idle conversation.  His eyes had glazed over, his hands rested on his hips as he felt himself being pulled away from where he was standing in the dappled sunlight of the pines.  He had returned home to Chicago, the busy sounds of the neighborhood replaced the serene sounds of Fall on an island in Maine. He grabbed Hannah’s little bike seat with two hands and told her to hold on.  His legs pushed them both alongside the street, her body wobbled as she began to pedal. They moved along the street together. She had no idea that John had let go of the bike and was simply running beside her, coaching her that she could do it, there was nothing stopping her now. Hannah looked back as John stopped running, excitement overtook her tiny frame. She jammed on her brakes and jumped off her bike and ran back towards John screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, I did it!”

    John bent over to scoop her up in his arms but as he did she disappeared. He was left alone, standing in the street with nothing but a memory.”  -Medialla’s Lament – The Novel

    I’ve been wrestling with the last few pages of Chicago rewrites that Jody had assigned to me a few months ago so I decided to take a break and return to Applewood, to push the screenplay further into a novel.  It’s where I seem to be more comfortable writing.  Two nights ago a message dinged on my phone.  I reached over to see who it was, I was in bed under my cozy quilt watching Bravo with Kyle.  “Let’s get the first draft finished by August.” I read Jody’s message out loud and then responded a simple, O.K.  It’s not an impossible feat, it’s actually on par with where we should be.



  • The call you dread getting – A New Family

    It’s that call that you dread getting as a parent, your kid has been hurt, come quick. On my way home from work I called Anna to ask her to be ready and waiting at the top of the driveway.  We were cutting it close getting Libby to her horseback lesson and I wanted nothing less than to be in full on rush mode.  “Mum, Rudolph has been hurt.” Anna’s voice was filled with distress yet she seemed incredibly calm.  I assured her that I would be there any minute but wanted to know what had happened.

    Track had been cancelled last minute so Anna grabbed the bus home.  As she walked down the driveway she was startled by cries from Rudolph. Something told her that it wasn’t his normal cry, she dropped her bag on the patio table and made her way to the barn. Rudolph wasn’t in either of the pastures. Anna found him pinned between his playpen and the stall wall.  After trying to move the pen herself without any success, she ran to get Aaron who had come home early from work.  They freed Rudolph, his cries ceased and he ran out into the pasture and immediately began eating grass. Aaron closed off their pen, moved it away from the wall and checked on his sister.

    cometjingleI sat back in the drivers’ seat.  My stomach went sick, the image of Rudolph being pinned made me nauseous and filled me with worry and concern.  Then after learning that with the Grace of God, so many things had been rearranged to make Rudolph’s timely rescue possible, my pulse slowed down.  Aaron was cut early from work, Track practice was cancelled and Anna came home on the bus. She had asked that I pick her up on the way to Libby’s horseback riding lessons.  It seemed impossible that all of these necessary changes took place on the one day we needed them most.

    I couldn’t wait to be back on the farm with all of the animals.  I needed to jump into the pastures with the goats and know that Rudolph was going to be more than just okay. They ran to greet me, I reached down and began scratching their necks and backs. Rudolph seemed to be his old self and nothing worse for the wear.  I moved into their stall, needing to make sure that the afternoon’s event wouldn’t happen again.  My heart had sank as Anna recalled what had happened to Rudolph earlier in the day,  I listened as it grew heavier and fell into my stomach.  These animals have become a part of our family and it’s growing harder each day to imagine life without even one of them. Dasher and Rudolph, our goat kids, are just days away from being weaned from their bottle. We’ve brought them through their daily feedings, getting acquainted with our two big goats, Jingle & Comet, and our farm dog, Ruby.  Now is their time to shine on SeaStar Farm as friends and family continue to dote on them.

    rudolphdasher



  • Witch Hunt – A New Family

    I turned right out of our driveway yesterday morning, crews have been paving and as I made my to work on the dirt covered road, I imagined what Witchtrot Rd. may have been like hundreds of years ago when settlers first started spreading out into New England.  The leaves had come in and a canopy of green hung over both sides of the road giving an eerie feel as if time had stopped in certain places along the way.  When we first purchased our farm last Summer we were intrigued by the name Witchtrot. Throughout high school I had heard whispers of Witchtrot and the legends that swarmed it, Seniors tempting their fates had driven out to South Berwick on warm Summer nights hunting visions of witches and a day lost to years of development and normalcy.

    A quick scan of the Internet revealed the happenings that centuries of ghost stories have grown from.  They centered around a man, once a minister in the notorious town of Salem, Massachusetts who moved his family and practice to Wells, Maine just a couple towns over from Witchtrot Road in South Berwick. It was told that Rev. George Burroughs was a good man, he had defended his village from an Indian attack and was well respected in the town of Wells, Maine.  Yet when he had been minister to the Salem Village he had burned some bridges, fallen at odds with some of the villagers, more importantly had become adversaries with the notorious Cotton Mathers from the Salem Witch trials. Mr. Mathers charged three men to ride out to Wells from Salem with a summons to collect the Reverend.  When they arrived at his home, the Minister went willingly after hearing he was accused of being a witch. He proclaimed his innocence to his wife and left quietly.  A storm began to stir on their return trip to Salem, the horses were said to be agitated and began to be hard to control. Reverend Burroughs was rumored to have shown them a shortcut to make their travels easier, the path they took is now known as Witchtrot Road.

    Sarah Orne Jewett, historical author from South Berwick, penned, “Their terror was worsened as they rode their horses up and down small steep hills in midst of the turmoil of the storm, on a path overhung with huge and wildly waving trees.  That path was today’s Witchtrot Road.”

    burroughsheadstone

    Kyle and I have joked often about the legends that rise up and swirl around the road we now call home.  It’s ironic or maybe not that the original builder,  chose to build a reproduction home from the same period as the Salem witch trials. I haven’t run into him yet to ask how the plan came to be.  As we continue to explore and research the legend of Witchtrot Road, we are captivated by the rich history and eccentric characters that have built the town we call home.



  • An air that no longer moved – Medillia’s Lament, The Novel

    by Loren Reedy“They arrived at John’s house, Kevin put his truck in park and promised himself this would be the last time he would put his brother to bed. He reached into John’s pockets for the house key and unlocked the front door.  John’s eyes rolled open as Kevin leaned him up against the living room wall and closed the door behind them. Kevin’s face tightened as he moved John further into the living room. It reeked of stale alcohol, trash that needed to be emptied, and air that no longer moved.  The house forced Kevin to hold his stomach as he stood in the doorway watching his brother trying to get his bearings in his own home.” Mediallia’s Lament, The Novel